Many new authors are puzzled about how in the world to get their books to a bookstore.
While it is fairly easy to get your book published on Amazon and Barnes and Noble.com, taking your book to a physical bookstore is very difficult for a new, self-published author.
According to Eric Kampmann, director of MidPoint Trade Books, large chain bookstores are not interested in dealing with self-publishers or even small independent publishers. They are reluctant because they are not sure whether the books are of high quality with a professional cover and a large edition, and it takes them too long to deal with small orders.
That’s when a book dealer comes in.
A book distributor is the middle man between the publisher and the store buyers. Distributors place books in catalogs and send sales personnel to present the books to buyers. They are experts in wholesaling books and moving books to stores from warehouses. They also negotiate contacts with stores for special sales, store windows, and any type of special book promotion.
There are different types of distributors. If you print your book with Lightning Source, as I do, Ingram Distribution will automatically distribute your book. This is good. However, Ingram has a very large catalog, so your book probably won’t get much attention from your sales staff unless it’s featured on Oprah.
Other distributors are smaller and take a more personal approach. MidPoint Trade Books, for example, only agrees to distribute a book after a very rigorous selection process. If a book is approved, the sales staff will enthusiastically represent it.
Most distributors begin working with a publisher 6 to 12 months before the book is printed. However, distributors will also evaluate the books that have been released if they have sold between 300 and 400 copies on Amazon in the first three months after launch. Those sales figures from Amazon show that the book can generate sales, so a distributor would be interested in releasing it to bookstores.
If you want to sell your books in bookstores, follow these steps:
- Make sure to invest in a very professional cover, excellent editing, and professional design. Your book has to look top-notch and be top-notch.
- Start looking for distributors before publishing your book. Publication dates are very important for bookstore sales and you will need a distributor to help you schedule your book to launch in the most advantageous way.
- Be willing to pay. Book distributors do a lot of work on your behalf and deserve good compensation. Expect to pay a distribution fee of at least 30% and maybe more.
- Listen and learn. Hire a book reseller for their book selling expertise. They are your partners in the success of your book, so if your distributor makes a suggestion for a revised cover, additional edition, or other changes, you’d be wise to accept those suggestions.
If this whole idea scares you, ditch the idea of having your book in bookstores and focus your efforts on selling it on your own website and on Amazon / Barnes and Nobles.com.
Putting books in bookstores is not for everyone.
However, if it is your dream, now you have some additional knowledge that will help you make that dream come true.